ECI Puts 200 Properties Up For Sale For €1,000M

1 March 2016 – Expansión

Launch of Operation Batman / At the end of March, the retail giant will start to sell off dozens of logistics assets, supermarkets, offices and plots of land, in an effort to reduce its level of debt.

El Corte Inglés is making progress with its plan to divest its non-strategic real estate assets, in an effort to reduce its debt, with the launch of a huge real estate asset sales process. The retail giant is planning to put the For Sale sign up over a batch of 200 properties with an approximate value of €1,000 million.

This batch of assets includes up to 102 supermarkets – some of which are operational, whilst others are closed – , 32 logistics assets, which cover a surface area of 500,000 m2 and several plots of land. It also includes 50 high street retail outlets, with a combined surface area of 180,000 m2, and 20 office properties located in Madrid and Barcelona.

The process, dubbed internally as Operation Batman, is being coordinated by Morgan Stanley, which has collaborated with the El Corte Inglés in other operations. Meanwhile, Clifford Chance is responsible for providing legal advice.

According to sources close to the operation, the company intends to put this portfolio of assets up for sale at the end of this month. For the time being, the company has commissioned the valuation of the properties, with a view to receiving the first non-binding offers on 16 May and the definitive offers by the middle of July. The objective of Dimas Gimeno, the President of the El Corte Inglés, is to complete the asset sales before August.

The upcoming operation is attracting growing interest in the market. Most of the large funds, insurance companies and even some of the larger Socimis have expressed their interest in participating in the auction.

The company will accept offers for all of the properties, as well as for separate lots, if the potential purchaser is interested in buying, for example, only those assets linked to the logistics operations, the supermarkets or the offices. El Corte Inglés is not including the joy of its logistics crown in the lot: its megacentre in the south of Madrid. Nor is it willing to divest Torre Titania, or its historical headquarters in Hermosilla. (…).

Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz/A. Antón)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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